Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Six Quilts Down, 6 to go!

Yesterday I finished quilt number six. I really don't know where I find the time to teach myself something new. It must be somewhere in between work, sleep, breastfeeding the baby, cleaning the house and mopping up after the dogs. This one went smoothly for my first quilt not using square edges. I think I did pretty well with lining up the seams, B+ anyway.

I have 2 more using this design in the works and 4 others planned. A while ago, I bought fabric I liked on etsy and didn't know what to do with it until now. For the next two I am thinking about doing a new pattern for the top stitching. I don't know what yet, maybe a vine and leaf pattern. Up to this point I've only done a 'stipple' pattern for the top-stitching part so doing something else will be a huge challenge. I am going to try to draw the pattern with washable pencil so I have something to follow along while I'm stitching. The only hang up will be whether I can use the pencils on the fuzzy fabric I'm planning to use. I've decided it would be easier to move the fabric along if the fuzzy stuff was on the top rather than bottom while I stitch. That might help prevent some of the need to rip up seams, I think. It will be an experiment anyway.

Baby Field Notes loves all of the quilts. I use them to prop her up while I feed her and then when she finally falls asleep I can scoop her up in her quilt cocoon and lay her down still sleeping, snuggly and warm.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finally - Uproarious Laughter out of Baby

We have waited a long time to hear genuine giggles from little Field Notes. She has laughed out loud, LOL, but never anything remotely resembling giggles. We've made silly sounds. We've played peek-a-boo and made goofy faces. We've tickled her belly, under her chin, her arm pits. We've laughed ourselves silly, hoping that would get her going — yet nothing. One time I got a single 'heh' out of her by kneeling over her and panting like a dog.

She's 6 months old. You'd think we'd get some giggles out of her.

Then finally last night, while Mr. Field Notes had her facing forward in one of our baby carriers, she started giggling almost uncontrollably while he tossed french fries to the dogs. What tipped her over the edge was when Yuki snapped at a french fry and bounced it off her nose.

I so wish I could have instant replayed it. The giggles didn't last nearly long enough!

Those two newfs are going to be the center of her world, I have a feeling. The first time she smiled was when I told her "Here come your sisters!" when Mr. Field Notes approached the car with the two big girls so we could all go to the dog park together. Then later, her first laugh out loud was when I panted like a dog. And now, dog-induced giggles.

I love it.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Magnetic Felt Food - 'Peelable' Cantaloupe Slice - Pattern!!

Ha! Here is my stroke of felt food genius - a piece of cantaloupe with rind that can be sliced off. The peel is held to the fruit by magnets that are completely concealed. I use the tiny but super strong neodymium ones. They are also lightweight. (Okay, in all honesty, it was Mr. Field Notes who suggested a fruit slice with removable peel. He's smart, too. It's just that usually he takes my good ideas and makes them even better, not the other way around. But the funky crust and cantaloupe part was all mine, neener neener. (We're not competitive with each other at all, the Mr. and I......)). Yeah, so enough about us — onto the cantaloupe.

So, this project is one you can do yourself - choosing either the easy route (not peelable, no magnets) or the harder one. I've included a pattern down at the end.

6 magnets
felt in the following colors: light orange, lime/neon green, tan
thread: brown, tan and orange/yellow

It really helps if you can use a sewing machine to make the criss-cross brown stitches for the outer peel. It would be a big pain to hand embroider, but could be done. I get the felt in 8x11 inch sheets for 20 cents each at my local JoAnn's. I found really small, thin neodymium magnets for sale on etsy and used those for this project.

You can click on the pattern below and save it to print out and use to cut your own felt pieces. If you don't want to make a hidden magnet one that peels, you won't need the wider strip in orange, just the one in tan and the narrower one in orange. You can also use velcro instead of magnets.

I hid the magnets completely by sewing them in place between two pieces of felt, cut slightly narrower than the outer layers they hid behind. Basically, I sewed a little basket/nest of thread around them to hold them in place - at the top, middle, and bottom of the peel and the bottom of the fruit slice.

The hardest part is making sure the three magnets in the peel meet up just right with the three in the fruit. Even when they are oriented to attract each other, if they are a smidge out of alignment, they won't hold the peel and fruit together neatly. I used the force of the magnets to guide me.

I made an interior panel to hide the magnets in the peel by sewing three magnets inside little nests of thread in three places (top, middle and bottom) between two pieces of felt that I cut slightly narrower than the outer pieces of the peel that you actually see (the green and tan). Then I sewed this in between the green and tan piece. Next I made the interior panel for the magnets that are hidden in the fruit. I laid one of the interior orange strips for the fruit on top of the lime green side of the finished peel. I laid a magnet on top of that close to wherever the magnet was in the peel. If you get close, it will just slide into place, attracted by the magnetic force. Then I put the other interior piece of orange on top of it and picked up the magnet with the two pieces of orange felt around it and then fixed the magnet into place by sewing a network of thread all around it. I repeated this for the other two magnets in the peel.

I've admired a lot of felt food for sale on etsy and have never seen anything like this before, so I think I have something unique here. There are loads of other possibilities with this general style and technique, too. Watermelons, oranges, apples — just about any peelable fruit. Cool! And, more fun for a little one =D

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Third Way

There are two common ways quilters bind the three layers (top, bottom and batting) of a quilt: free motion and 'stitch the ditch.' But there is a third way, and for lack of knowing if there's an actual quilting term for it, I am going to call it faux appliqué. It involves stitching around one or more of the shapes on one side of the cloth, essentially outlining it very carefully. Since people affix appliques by stitching around their edges, I like the term 'faux appliqué.' It can be a great way to bind what might otherwise be a tricky quilt because it is very forgiving of different tension that can exist between the top and bottom layers of a quilt.

This third way takes about the same amount of time to sew as the other two methods, and may actually be less time consuming because it totally eliminates any bunching and subsequent need to rip up and redo seams. This method is best suited for cloth that has a neat pattern you want to highlight. For my quilt I chose to outline the giraffes on the animal print on the other side.

There are two ways to make quilt bindings too, and now that I've tried both ways twice, I can say I definitely prefer one. The method I prefer is to fold over one side of the quilt that has been cut slightly larger than the other (about two inches) and then hand stitch it to the smaller side while being careful not to sew through both sides. If you want a different fabric for the trim, a variation of this method involves sewing that two inch strip of cloth to the edges first. The other method, which I think is inferior (perhaps because I can't make it look good) is to sew on pre-folded, using an iron to make the creases, strips of cloth to each edge which you then sew onto the top and bottom of the quilt at the same time. It is a much faster technique, even with the need to go back over your work and re-sew where the two sides don't match up, but it looks uglier because it is impossible to perfectly line up the two sets of stitches where they didn't line up correctly the first time.

Even though I used the inferior binding technique on this quilt, I think Baby Field Notes approves of it nonetheless.

Eventually I will get back to academic blogging but there just hasn't been anything really exciting to write about in that arena lately! I will entertain suggestions though =D